Shopping center to close


Published: Thursday, May 1, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 9:22 p.m.

A Lake City shopping center has given a Food Lion and eight other tenants until May 31 to evacuate because of sinkhole activity below ground.

Property manager Pelican Group of Mobile, Ala., informed tenants earlier this year that the center would be closing after a survey revealed sinking subsurface soil in a much larger area than previously believed affected the entire property.

Sinkhole activity was discovered in 2002 when cracks began to appear on a sidewalk and columns at the Gleason Place Shopping Center, informally known as the old Kmart shopping center, at U.S. 90 and State Road 247.

By 2004, two stores were rendered uninhabitable because of a cracked and displaced slab, according to Chris Hazelip, Jacksonville attorney for owner Shanri Holdings Corp. of Delaware. A half-foot dip in the parking lot is blocked off by barricades.

"It looks like the whole shopping center is being slowly gobbled up," Hazelip said.

He said there is not a cost-effective way to solve the problem because of the depths of the sinking soil.

The survey was done for the owner's lawsuit against its insurance company, which contends the problem existed under a prior insurer. In 1996, engineers attributed damages from settling to compressed muck and the owners installed additional supports beneath the surface.

Food Lion had already planned to move in the fall into a new store now under construction, but will be closing May 7. Its approximately 50 employees were offered transfers to other stores in the meantime, according to special projects manager Karen Peterson from North Carolina headquarters.

Nancy Dohn, senior director of public relations for Haven Hospice, said the Haven Hospice Attic thrift store is going to relocate to the Gateway Center, "not too far from where we are now, and there's no sinkhole, most importantly."

No plans for old Trader's: After a deal for a new adult store fell through last year, the owner of the old Trader's Gatorland South strip club on SW 13th Street said his property is in limbo. "I'm presently just trying to get the paperwork that they require to build a building in there," said Thomas Henderson of Satellite Beach.

The old Trader's remains partially demolished after the city issued a stop work order when a contractor was working on the building without a permit, according to Ralph Hilliard, Gainesville planning director.

Trader's closed two years ago at the end of a 1998 agreement with the city to exempt the club from a 1995 city ordinance prohibiting nudity and alcohol in the same venue.

Fairvilla Megastore, an Orlando-based adult retailer, had planned last year to move into the building. Director of marketing Debra Peterson said the company stopped those plans to focus on improvements at its other stores. But Hilliard said the property is too close to residential properties to allow an adult business.

The city Board of Adjustment denied an appeal from Trader's for a noncomforming use exemption in June 2007.

Trader's operated as a strip club for about 40 years before its exemption from the 1995 law expired.

Rebate $300 if no taxes paid: A reader called to say she was promised a $300 tax stimulus rebate when filling her taxes online despite numerous published reports - including ours - that single filers would be getting $600.

People who have at least $3,000 in income such as Social Security, but who aren't required to pay taxes, are eligible to receive $300, or $600 for couples.

Anthony Clark can be reached at 352-374-5094 or anthony.clark@gvillesun.com.

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